The process of friction stir welding involves high tool forces and requires robust machinery; the forces involved make tool wear a predominant problem. As a result, many alternatives have been proposed in decreasing tool forces such as laser assisted friction stir welding and ultra-sound assisted friction stir welding. However, these alternatives are not commercially successful on a large scale due to scalability and capital/maintenance costs.
In an attempt to reduce forces in a cost-feasible manner, electrically-assisted friction stir welding (EAFSW) is studied in this work. EAFSW is a result of applying the concept of electrically-assisted manufacturing (i.e., passing high direct electrical current through a workpiece during processing) to the conventional friction stir welding process. The concept of EAFSW is a relatively new adaptation of conventional frictional stir welding, which is well established. The expected benefits are reduction in the feed force and torque, which allow for improved processing productivity as well as the possibility for deeper penetration of the weld.